Tuesday's Attention #6
The Art of Celebration
The Art of Celebration
A week and a half ago some of my closest friends threw me a “Crumpets & Closure” dinner in order to give me a space to grieve leaving the classroom and to celebrate being off of a medicine that had been really hard on my body. During the night, we drank tea and ate low-sodium crumpets around a candle lit table. Throughout dinner, my friends held space for me to share stories of my time in the classroom— the good, the hard, and the beautiful. They also asked me to share about my experience on a high dose of the steroid Prednisone for 6+ months. Although those stories were not beautiful nor the “good” ones, the way they held space for me is the beauty that I celebrate. Because of that night I realized there was more to grieve and to celebrate than I had realized. It reminds me of Mary Oliver’s words from her poem “We Shake With Joy”.
We shake with joy, we shake with grief
What a time they have, these two
housed as they are in the same body
At that dinner, I knew I wasn’t the only one housing both joy and grief in my body. In different ways, we all are. After I shared my stories with my friends, I wanted to hear some of my friends’ words too. I asked them each to share something they were celebrating in their lives. We popcorn shared (everyone’s school nightmare) and at many moments while people shared we laughed, nodded our heads in agreement, and even cried. The range of answers was my favorite. Some were celebrating the joy of stickers on their nails and others were celebrating future plans and new friends and heart-warming memories. One friend was celebrating her new disco ball and we spoke about how fun it is that disco balls were making a return! Some were surprised to hear that it was a returning trend and others had seen the trend unfolding over the past few years.
I have a few friends in particular, that I have grown up with, who have had disco balls as a part of their homes and even cars for a while now. Some may think it is for the aesthetic, and sure, there is nothing wrong with a fun aesthetic, but when you get to know these friends, you see it goes beyond that. It goes into the art of celebrating. They celebrate for celebration's sake. They will turn a patch of grass into a garden of people and color and food. They will transform any floor they can into a dance floor. They will turn zebra cakes into a tower with candles on it. They will find any excuse they can to let glitter and/or confetti cover a floor. They will buy flowers for strangers and will leave them on their dashboard just to celebrate their existence. Even when you are just in their presence, there is a sense of celebration— of love and of friendship. What they have taught me over the years is that there doesn't have to be a birthday or an engagement for there to be a celebration. Sometimes the greatest celebrations are the ones where we are celebrating the miniscule and the mundane. There, the pressure is off and the creative freedom is released.
When we celebrate, we engage in connection, creativity, and attention in a powerful way. With that being said, my challenge for you all this week is to incorporate celebration into each day— no matter how small the celebration seems! Celebrate making it through a Monday. Make yourself a good cup of coffee in the morning and celebrate a new day! Celebrate a friend that you love and their friendship! Celebrate any small or big victories you’ve had the past few weeks. Celebrate your body and its resiliency! Celebrate growth! Whatever it is that you can celebrate, go for it! Make a list!! Share your list with a friend and celebrate together! Feel free to send some of your celebrations back with me, I’d love to share in celebrating with you.
This time last year my friend Haley and I went to Chattanooga for a weekend trip. Haley and I are both lovers of words and we are both people who are content sharing space with others in silence. On this trip, we took time to read. We both, unsurprisingly, had books of poetry with us. I had Mary Oliver’s book Devotions. I spent that weekend returning back to some of my favorite poems. While we were reading, Haley shared with me that her favorite in the book was “The Summer Day”. Much of the poem is a call to attention. In the last lines she writes:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
I love the ways she speaks directly to her audience in this poem. This question has stuck with me and it feels all the more prevalent to me now than it did a year ago. Chronic illness has altered much of my life over the past year, but I still have this wild and precious life in front of me. I can choose to pay attention and to engage and to celebrate every inch of it that I can or I can choose otherwise. I am not as sure about what I plan to do with this gift of a life I have been given as I once was, but I think it is all more simple than I have made it out to be. All that I do know is that I am going to choose to love, to create, to celebrate, and to pay as close attention as I can to the beauty in the mundane and in the miracles around me. It’s why I love Mary Oliver’s poetry so much. She, like my high school friends, always brings me back to the art of celebration.
Two weeks ago I took a writing course led by Hannah Brencher. Within the course, Hannah spoke about the importance of celebration. She shared how crucial it is to have in order to continue on in creative work. She emphasized how one must celebrate their victories and sometimes even their failures. We can celebrate our progress. We can celebrate that we didn’t let fear keep us from not creating.
The act of celebrating is the fuel behind being able to continue creating.
List of Attention:
How hard it can be to celebrate ourselves, but how healing it can be too
The JOY of watching a soccer team celebrate one of their teammates being named captain
A friend throwing a party for her friend because they dropped a hard class and felt like they should celebrate that
How sweet it is watching a dog learn and the joy of celebrating her progress
The ways celebration allows us to move forward
How celebration and grief can support one another
How healing dancing is
The ways my dog Rue automatically celebrates someone as soon as they enter into our home
At the end of every newsletter, I want to leave you all with some questions/prompts to think on. My hope is that these can encourage you in some form or fashion. Whether it is through just taking some time to think through them, to write about that, or to talk through them with a loved one. If you ever want a friend to hear your thoughts, feel free to share them back with me! I always love to read and to listen.
If you get the chance, discuss your thoughts on these questions with a friend!
What has been your favorite celebration that you have been a part of? Why?
What is your favorite kind of celebration? Write it out somewhere and find a way to bring that into your month.
What does it mean to you that celebration is an art?
Creative Prompts/Celebration Tasks:
Create a running list this week of celebrations on the notes of your phone or on a piece of paper. If you are having a meal with friends or family, share with them some of the points from your list!
Make one meal this week a celebration! Cook a meal or go buy a meal that makes you happy and that feels fun and find a reason to celebrate over that meal with others
Write a poem centered around celebration, but without actually using the word celebration
One Word Prompts:
Write a letter to your younger self and celebrate them in any way that you can! Celebrate their perseverance. Speak words of kindness and name how you’ve been proud of yourself
Write a letter to someone who celebrates you well. Let them know how that has impacted you!
Write a letter to someone who you want to celebrate! Encourage them with your words. And if you want to go the next step, plan a small celebration for them and let the letter be an invitation!
I am not sure where you are emotionally this week as you are reading this, but wherever you are at, there is space for you here. If celebration feels hard right now, I am with you.
This week, I celebrate you. I celebrate that you are taking time right now to pause and read these words. I celebrate you showing up for a new day. I celebrate your strength!
As you carry on into this week, may your days ahead be filled with words that encourage you, laughter that heals you, and moments of beauty that pull your attention in and bring you to slow down.
May you know that you, yourself, are worth paying attention to.
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Thank you all for continuing to read my words. It is a joy to share this space and Tuesday mornings with you all!
A picture from the “Crumpets & Closure” celebration. This night goes down as one of my favorites.